Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York is a visual novel based on the Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop game that combines RPG elements and timed side quests together into an awesome story that reflects the dark tone of its setting, but is held back by its lack of flexibility.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York is set in a world where vampires exist in secret and live by their own codes and traditions in order to ensure that mortals never learn of their existence. The player chooses from three different characters, each of which comes from a different clan and possesses unique powers that allow them to survive the night. It doesn’t take long for the player to go from being transformed into a vampire, to begging for their unlife before a court of the dead and being taken into servitude in order to prove their worth.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York is a visual novel, which means that the game is broken down into different decisions that influence the story. There are several mechanics from the tabletop game which are always at play, the most important of which is hunger. As a vampire, the player needs to keep feeding on mortals in order to be able to use their powers and stave off the Beast, which is a dark presence inside their mind that is always vying to take control. If the player is hungry, then their dialogue choices will become limited until they can feed.
Visual novels rarely put much work into the aesthetics of the game, as the bulk of the content is tied to the text, but Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York does a good job with its visuals. The dynamic backgrounds add animations to otherwise static scenes, helping to give New York City an imposing atmosphere that fits right in with the dark tone of the story. The artwork for the character portraits is also gorgeous, and the foreboding soundtrack matches the grim existence that the main character finds themselves in.
All My Friends Are Dead
The story of Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York takes place across the map of the city, which is broken up into different quests that exist outside of the main storyline. The player is encouraged to make allies with vampires from other clans. These loyalty missions offer some of the highlights of the game, including helping a phone-obsessed Malkavian who wants to dispose of an enemy within the tech industry and working alongside a hideous Nosferatu who is trying to solve a mysterious murder case. The writing in Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York is generally stellar and the content reflects that of the World of Darkness, with the player often forced to make hard decisions and strike up friendships with unsavory characters who would be villains in any other game.
The awesome side quests are let down the main quest, or rather, the conclusion to the main quest. Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York is a game that is begging for multiple endings involving the different factions in the game (in the same way that Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines did so many years ago), but the story reaches its same predetermined conclusion each time and ends in the middle of a scene with many mysteries still left unanswered. Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York will take several playthroughs to see all of the story content, but the experience is also relatively short, seeing as how several story sections are almost identical for each character.
Keeping The Beast At Bay
There are also some technical gripes with the build of Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York that we were given, the most notable of which were a number of minor glitches that popped up throughout the game. None of the glitches were game-breaking or caused me to lose progress, but there are enough problems with developer text showing up that they bear mentioning. Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York is also missing some of the extra features that you would normally see in visual novels, such as the ability to auto-proceed with the text, or a gallery showing off the artwork in the game.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York does an excellent job of introducing new gamers to the World of Darkness. Players who have waited fifteen years for a new Vampire: The Masquerade game will feel right at home. Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York offers a short, but compelling narrative experience that meshes the visual novel and RPG genres into an intriguing new package. It’s just a shame that the scope of the game wasn’t grander, truly allowing the player to form a coterie that could take the world by storm.
A PC review copy of Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York was provided to TheGamer for this review. Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York will be available for Windows, Linux, and macOS on December 11, 2019, and will be available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in Q1 2020.
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